|Health workers in Uganda often have to use less effective equipment because they do not have modern healthcare technologies.|
As a Ugandan, the challenges that women in this country face are very close to my heart. There are 4,700 maternal deaths every year in Uganda. I was eager to learn that the Merck for Mothers team members would be coming to Uganda to gain a deeper understanding of the maternal mortality situation in my country, and was pleased to accompany them on their visits to urban and rural health centers.
From Kampala, we drove for about four hours to visit facilities in the Mubende and Mityana Districts. We saw a regional referral hospital and government health centers. The dedicated providers discussed the staff shortages and limited access to resources and good quality supplies. A doctor at one understaffed facility, who was also serving as the hospital administrator, explained in frustration that "the gloves the hospital recently received have holes in them, making them useless." Families are often left to purchase their own supplies in order to receive services, which means that women with few resources are often unable to get the maternity care they need.
We concluded the visit with a clearer sense of the challenges associated with maternal health, but at the same time, we were encouraged to know that change is possible.